Grief is the period of mourning and adjustment that we experience in response to loss and/or change in our lives. Feelings of loss are triggered when something meaningful is no longer a part of a person’s life. Feelings of grief and loss may be experienced for a variety of different reasons, including:
Death of a loved one
Separation from a loved one
Loss of financial security
Loss of employment
Loss of health
Loss of independence
Loss of faith
Loss of identity or sense of self
This list is by no means exhaustive; loss and grief are highly subjective experiences that vary from person to person. Different patterns of grief exist and everyone is different so it is important to remember that how one person deals with a loss or event may be very different to another, even within the same family.
While grief is a normal part of life, it is also a time where we are more vulnerable and there is a risk that we get stuck in grief. Grief like this is can be persistent and pervasive. We may experience intense feeling, yearnings for the lost person/item, disruptive preoccupation with thoughts and memories of the grief source, avoidance of reminders of the source of grief, self-blame, bitterness and anger.
The vulnerability of grief can also compromise our physical and social world including isolating ourselves, avoiding others and utilising substances (food, alcohol or other drugs) to cope.
Grief has been understood as comprising a number of stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) and whilst these stages can be recognised I have found that it has been more helpful for me and others to look at grief as a relationship. As with all relationships our experience of the relationship can change, sometimes being close to the pain and other times more distant and with more peace.
How we manage ourselves and take care of ourselves within this relationship to grief is key to finding a way forward.
Grief is experienced cognitively, physically, behaviourally and socially. The experience of loss and grief is remains a part of who we are however as life progresses our relationship to the grief changes through the experiences we have. This speaks to the importance of what we do to support ourselves when we have a significant loss.
Taking care of our self is important topic which I will write about in a future blog. As a start here are a few examples of steps which may help:
Talking to a trusted support person
Writing or drawing about your feelings
Looking at photos of the lost person or object to allow emotions to surface and be processed
Writing a goodbye letter to the person or thing you have lost
Finding relief through relaxing and enjoyable activities such as music, art, movies, sport or reading
It is important to remember that grief is a normal response to a difficult time and situation in our life. How you take care of your self during this time is important. Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process, however sometimes we can get stuck by grief and reaching out for professional support is a smart thing to do. Neurofeedback, biofeedback, hypnotherapy and counselling are resources we can provide which can make a profound difference in our relationship with grief.
Ma te wa